Deconstructing 2013’s Weirdest Baseball Playoff Ads

Bestiality is one way to sell insurance.

Bestiality is one way to sell insurance.

During the baseball season, fans are exposed to the same ads dozens, hundreds, maybe thousands of times. But only in the postseason are we all, as a nation, united in our annoyance at the same endlessly repeated ads, coast to coast. In October, instead of the usual spots for the local discount furniture store or shady ambulance-chasers that accompanied us through the summer, we deal with the big guys.

You will recall, from previous Octobers, “His father is the district attorney!” And also 2011’s “Wriiiitten in the staaaaaaaaars…” Most of these ads, for all their repetition, are gone from our conscious minds by December, which is generally a blessing. But some, because they are so annoying or just so odd, tend to stick. Several ads this fall are so perplexing that there is simply no ignoring them.

(There are some genuinely good ads this fall, too — the Samsung Galaxy watch commercial, for example, because invoking Inspector Gadget is an infallible strategy — but there doesn’t seem much point in spending any time on those. Clearly, they can afford plenty of advertising and do not need the free kind.)

So here are the four most confusing repetitive ads of the 2013 postseason. If the playoff results haven’t already driven you mad, let these help you over the edge.

* * *

T-Mobile: “Jeremy”

Easily the most irritating commercial of the MLB postseason to date, this is also the most baffling.

Who are these parents talking to? Are they broadcasting their message to the Internet at large? Why? Since Jeremy’s phone is on — this, after all, is the entire point — why not email, text or call him to inform him of the outrageous charges? Or, if they are paying his phone bill, as seems to be the case, why not call his provider and change the plan themselves? Also, did they have to be vaguely Jewish caricatures? Nothing about this makes a lick of sense.

Jeremy may be irresponsibly racking up charges, but it’s clear that his parents have become completely unhinged. Perhaps he went to Europe to escape them. In fact, do they even have a son? Are we sure? That could be a photo of anyone. Just saying.

* * *

Geico: Maxwell and Ted

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel this ad has really gotten off easy this fall. I mean, this is one dark, creepy, nasty little commercial.

So an inexplicably anthropomorphized pig and a normal human man both have hail damage to their cars. The pig takes care of the insurance issues fast on his mobile device, and the human gets bogged down with poor customer service. So the pig steals the human’s girlfriend and goes jet skiing.


On the back of a jet ski — with, again, a taking pig — the woman yells, “Later Ted!” Are we supposed to believe that she left Ted because he spent too long on the phone trying to reach his insurance representative? And apparently she now feels vindictive towards him? And sleeping with a pig is her revenge? If so, isn’t Ted much, much better off without her? Setting aside her apparent fondness for interspecies relations; if she left him for a literal pig — and left him with unnecessary cruelty, at that — because he got delayed on an insurance phone call, just imagine her reaction when they dealt with an actual crisis! This ad thinks it’s about insurance and convenience, but really it’s about bestiality and the end of a relationship with a sociopath.

Instead of wanting to switch my car insurance, this ad only leaves me wanting to track down Ted and make sure he’s OK and that he understands that what happened here is not his fault but that also he needs to really work on that self-esteem, preferably with the help of a mental health professional, so that next time he can find a partner who treats him the way he deserves to be treated. I really hope Ted has a strong support network.

* * *

Chevy: “A Man. A man and his truck”

An ad. An ad and its repetition. And its poetic phrasing, and the false impression that if you just buy the right kind of pickup truck maybe you’ll be closer with your son.

This ad would actually be fine if it hadn’t played during every single inning of every Division Series game, to the point of becoming nonsensical. A man… a man and his truck. A flan… and flan and its duck. A tan… a tan and its muck.

Also, because John Cusack narrates this, all I can think of is his character’s speech in Say Anything — I movie that I now realize isn’t as great as I thought it was when I was in high school, but is still pretty good:

“I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.”

How’d that work out, Lloyd?

* * *

Viagra: Factory

To be clear, I do not think there is anything to ridicule in taking Viagra or other erectile dysfunction aids.  But their ads are, almost without fail, super weird.

Because any explicit/direct/no-nonsense approach to sex is generally frowned on in primetime, Viagra and similar drug ads generally choose between two routes: innuendo, or indirect to the point of confusion. The all-time most hilarious version of the former has to be the Levitra spot in which a middle aged man actually tries and fails to throw a football through a tire swing, then thanks to Levitra is able to really nail that tire swing, if you know what I mean:

If you are using throwing a football through a tire swing as a metaphor for sex, ask your doctor if you are emotionally mature enough for sex.

Anyway, this Viagra ad goes the other way: classy to the point of inscrutable. With the sound off (which is generally the case on my TV when commercials are on), there is really no clue as to what this ad might be for. Mostly it’s just a guy wandering around an empty factory at night, looking smug. Presumably the idea is that guys who know how to “fix things” and “get things done,” like Mr. Fixing Printing Machinery Before Retreating To Fancy Corner Office here, know that they can and should deal with erectile dysfunction — while still being totally completely extra manly. Which is a fine message. But it’s still sort of strange that an ad for what’s essentially a sex aid focuses entirely on a smug guy alone in an empty factory. All we get is a glimpse at the very end of a photo, then a text saying “see you soon : )” before he goes home, presumably to sleep with Mrs. Fixing Printing Machinery Before Retreating To Fancy Corner Office. Nothing like wandering around an empty factory by yourself to get you in the mood.

36 thoughts on “Deconstructing 2013’s Weirdest Baseball Playoff Ads

  1. Someone can do a dissertation on Geico ads alone. The one bothering me lately is the “hump day” camel. Notice how he goes around the office trying to get someone – anyone – to interact with him. But no one responds, most likely because they’re aware of the obvious and juvenile joke. Also likely, the camel is an annoying douchebag and nobody in the office even likes him because of that fact. The only person that did actually respond to him did so with disdain, as if she just wanted the camel to get it over with.
    Honestly, the ad doesn’t bother me. It’s the fact that many people love to mimic the camel on Wednesdays. At work or at the bar, every week I hear someone start up, “Mikemikemike…” These people obviously don’t understand that the reason why no one responds to the camel is because it’s an old, annoying joke, and the camel has driven it into the ground. So they do the SAME EXACT THING.
    Stop it!

    • Yeah, but you remember Geico, dontcha? That’s the whole point. It’s annoying, so you remember it.

      • After a long series of crass ads and an ill-fated TV series, they ran ONE classy ad at the end of that sequence. I wish they’d run just that one again. Of course, to “get” it, you’d have to be privy to the whole sordid sequence, but it stood alone for those unaware.

        The rest of the Geico sequences never last long enough for the one classy endpiece.


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  3. With the “Jeremy” commercial, why was it “Day 3″? And where were Days 1, 2, and 4? It might have been clever if they changed the commercial each day but this one alone was annoying.

  4. Great post!

    And OK, I’m glad my wife and I aren’t the only ones who looked askance at the Geico ad. The first time we had the misfortune to watch this ad, my wife turned to me and said “OK, so because this guy’s on hold for too long, his girlfriend’s going to go out and (bad word here) a pig?”

    And this is isn’t the first incident of Geico-induced bestiality. There was some another ad with that blasted pig, in a convertible, with some girl who was REALLY keen on getting busy with him, but the pig was too absorbed in his smart phone insurance apps.

    I don’t know what ad agency Geico uses, but clearly it’s the one that thinks women have really REALLY low standards.

    • I really like the large dog (Scottish wolfhound type) whose girl soldier has been gone. The last scene of them-dog on top between her spread legs makes me glad??? she still has her uniform on.

    • You (and your wife, I guess) really have a hangup on bestiality. It’s not about bestiality, it’s about being attractive because you have Geico insurance. Sheesh.

  5. I think my favorite is the Chevy Silverado, where the point seems to be that the interior is quiet (which is clearly what I’m looking for in a work vehicle). However, in the most baffling use of phrasing I’ve seen in quite some time, the narrator says something like “…Silverado takes a back seat to nobody…and by nobody I mean Ram and Ford”

    Wait….haven’t you just told me that Ram and Ford are superior trucks?

  6. Nothing against gamers, but the ad where some guys win a war for a PS4 makes no sense when it’s clear the tag in their T-shirts could kick their ass.

  7. …and while we hear the concern of MLB about the length of game issues, they constantly allow the networks (Fox, TBS) to continue down this road. I WANT to watch baseball, not see the same commecials for 9 innings.

  8. and how did Maxwell the pig get to the lake with his jetski if his car was messed up? The girl obviously doesn’t have a car because she was waiting for her boyfriend to get his fixed.

  9. Perhaps I’m an easy mark this morning, buy I actually laughed out loud at this line: “If you are using throwing a football through a tire swing as a metaphor for sex, ask your doctor if you are emotionally mature enough for sex.”

  10. Budweiser:
    “you…..say….isn’t it hard……___________ __________, ______________ ___________.


  11. Advertising has moved from the Mad Men to the Sad Men…from jocks to geeks…from the in crowd to the Millard Fillmore Society…the Mad Men now rule Wall Street…and
    the Sad Men, protractors protruding from their shirt pockets, think that “tee-hee” is
    funny…the FedEx ad campaign must be managed by a bunch of spandex-wearing
    bike commuters riding tandem in traffic…the insurance companies require a Michael
    Moore-type expose and should be reined in by Congress…makes me yearn for the
    good ole days when the alcoholics and adulterers ruled Madison Avenue.

  12. And while we’re on the subject of male enhancement, what in the name of limp noodle is the deal with those stupid bathtubs for Cialis? Most of their commercials seem to close with the man and woman in separate bathtubs, side by side in a meadow or some other ridiculous venue where there’s clearly no source of water or drainage. Just two idiots in separate bathtubs.

    Which, if you think of it, begs the question “How does the sight of two people in separate containers convey the idea of a successful ‘closing of the deal’ that supposedly occurs if the guy would only take the advertised pills?” Unless they’re implying that, by taking the medication, the guy will be so ‘enhanced’ that he can use it to punch through two layers of bathtub material in order to reach the target.

    • John, as cranky as you are, I imagine the pig gets laid more than you do.

      See, one of the main themes in commercials is: Use our product and get the girl. This is just a humorous spin on that theme. Boy, if you gotta explain the jokes…(eyeroll)

      Get a life, man.

  13. I almost want to throw something at my TV whenever the “Jeremy” ad comes on.
    And with that “Factory” ad, didn’t anyone realize they had left the cyan filter on the camera? Seriously, what’s with that crappy color? I know it’s supposed to be after hours (and perhaps the color is supposed to indicate nighttime), but who works in a place that poorly lit? Especially one where there’s lots of dangerous machinery around?

  14. Is this writer (still;) serious? I mean, what does ‘sleeping with’ anyone (man, woman or beast) have to do with the ad? What a pervert! And, am not referring to the audience or the commercial makers either…hasnt everyone figured out that the pigs on a plane spots and aflack duck ads are vintage “animals as humans” metaphors for the scenario in life that calls for the companies product being hawked…nothing more and nothing less, so get your mind out of the hog trough, please girl! oops sorry if you detected any non-existent age and/or gender bias…this is supposed to be satire, right? just like the info the commercials are peddling; that is, if one uses common sense which is, unfortunately, not as common as it used to be!

    • Wayne Davis…could not have said it better myself. Nit-wits! I am thankful the pig made off with the babe and the Camel succeeded again in making someone say “Humpday”. Good for them. Think of the ridicule that pig has taken over the years trying to pick up girls in a bar and being continually shot down…because he was a pig (in your eyes (people)). Now Ted’s GF see him as an equivalet, without blinders, if you cut him, does he not bleed? He is a talking pig who (I assume since he can talk and work an iPad) can walk upright and attract hot women. MY hat goes off to him for crossing that barrier. If I was starting a company, I want him on my team. I bet that he could convince non pork-eating people to take a bite out of his rear. I would be drinking out of a pineapple on a beach every year with him at the President’s Club trip!

  15. It’s a cute ad, but I’m scared to death about what will happen to that kid who makes the classroom speech once he asks that girl out. I believe his next Google search will be “how do I deal with painful and humiliating rejection”.

  16. I can’t figure out the Johnnie Walker ad. What’s he walking to, the bar? Climbing a mountain putting him in the mood for a stiff one?

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  18. The GEICO Maxwell commercial is NOT New, it’s been around for months maybe a year, it is NOT a Playoffs commercial in the sense of the Super Bowl Ads. It and the Jeremy T-Moble ads did not make their debuts during the playoffs. Unless this Maxwell commercial is a sequel to the one I have already seen. I hate the Maxwell GEICO commercials, I’d rather see any one of the previous caveman ads than even 1/2 of a maxwell ad.

  19. how about the other “man and his truck” where the rancher is searching in the pouring rain for the lost calf (ideal ending would be when he gets home and his wife asks him what he wants for dinner, one word reply “veal”).

  20. My gripe with the ED ads is that the actors and actresses are getting younger and younger. Hey, some of those guys look to be in their 30’s and some of the women are in their 20’s. Why?

    And if I get an erection that lasts over 4 hours, I’m gonna bronze it.

  21. The GEICO ad with the pig and the girl on the jet ski is just really inappropriate. I was bothered by the convertible commercial, too, but now I have lost all patience with GEICO. Message to GEICO- stick with the gecko.

    As for the Viagra commercial, I hate it. The print shop is a complete mystery to me. What is that metaphor? Does it just mean he is waiting at work until his meds kick in?

    MLB and Fox would do us all a favor if we could have two innings in a row without commercial interruptions.

  22. regarding Cialis ads – I figured it out… if you watch carefully, you’ll see the two ‘heads in bathtubs’ dissolve into the two “i’s” in Cialis! That’s the ONLY reason I can figure out why you’d see a man and woman – naked, in two separate but close and parallel, bathtubs – holding hands and watchin the sunset at a beach/meadow/mountain resort/downtown Phoenix/(insert your favorite scenario here) as a representation for ED meds… wonder what the imagery would’ve been if the med was Coxathrobin instead…?

  23. Dear Mary Phillips
    The gecko ads aren’t so squeeky clean either. Seen the one where the gecko is having a nice chat with one person when a woman marches up and rants about him leaving her – only to apologize when she realizes she thought he was someone else?